Looking back, 2005 seemed to be the year of affinity marketing Web sites. 2006 looks like it will be more about small group major medical sites.

In the last six months, I’ve had four meaningful conversations with carriers and brokers about multi-carrier small-group quoting and enrollment Web sites. A couple conversations have focused on serving agents, helping them to work “better, faster, cheaper” using online tools for quoting, proposals, and enrollments. A couple have been brokers and carriers wanting to market group health direct to consumers.

So as with all Web sites, the keys to success will be design and architecture, as well as branding and marketing — not to mention product design. But it really seems clear that the small group medical quoting and enrollment business model is maturing.

2006 also looks like the year of lead engines for insurance products of all shapes and sizes. Everyone wants leads for their agents, and they are willing to pay a nice price for high quality leads.

So 2005 was very productive. A few carriers did very well. A few others I know about stumbled. In 2006, the stakes are increasing as the insurance market seems to be moving more into technology-enabled marketing with e-signature. I’m looking forward to a very productive new year.